NEW YORK, November 15 (Itar-Tass) — The successful launch of the Soyuz manned spacecraft that on Monday was blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome is an important stage in the development of the International Space Station (ISS), ISS program manager at NASA Michael Suffredini said.
This is certainly a very important moment for the program. He said he looks forward to the arrival of the new team in orbit with which the ISS crew again consist of six people.
He stressed that after the end of the US space shuttle program launch, the Russian spaceships remained the only means of delivering US astronauts to orbit. It is the only way for us so far to take people to the station and back to Earth. We need people on the ISS to continue research and maintain our facilities on the station in the working condition, so this launch was very important for us, said the NASA official.
He called Soyuz a very reliable spacecraft that has proven it during many years of operation. The ship with time was modernised, but no significant changes have been introduced in the design. That is why Russian experts were able to quickly solve the existing problems (following the crash of the Progress cargo spacecraft) and resume flights, Suffredini said.
Michael Suffredini also noted that the successful launch was made in bad weather conditions – there was a snowstorm at Baikonur during the blastoff. The Russian specialists understand that a ship that can be launched in any weather conditions is needed, because they believe it is very important to continue to deliver cargoes to the station and support the work of the crew. So they designed such a ship as Soyuz that can be used in complex weather conditions, such as at Baikonur now, Suffredini said.
The Soyuz-FG launch vehicle with the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft was blasted off to the ISS at 08:14, Moscow time on Monday. The ship will deliver to the ISS a new long-term expedition comprising Russians cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and NASA astronaut Daniel Burbank. The docking of Soyuz with the ISS is scheduled for 09:33 MSK on November 16.
According to NASA, Expedition 29 crewmembers Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and Dan Burbank are on their way to the ISS. The Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft carrying the new trio launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 11:14 p.m. EST Sunday (10:14 a.m. Baikonur time Monday). The Soyuz TMA-22 will dock to the Poisk mini-research module at 12:33 a.m. Wednesday. Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum and Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov will welcome their new crewmates a little while later when they open the hatches about 2:55 a.m. Shkaplerov, Ivanishin and Burbank are scheduled to live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory until March.
NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer Dan Burbank is making his third visit to the International Space Station. His previous two visits were both aboard space shuttle Atlantis. He helped prepare the station for its first crew during STS-106 and helped install the P3/P4 truss during STS-115. Shkaplerov and Ivanishin, both flight engineers, are beginning their first mission as cosmonauts. Expedition 29 will end when Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov undock from the Rassvet mini-research module inside the Soyuz TMA-02M Nov. 21. The outgoing trio will land in the steppe of Kazakhstan at 9:25 p.m. (8:25 a.m. Baikonur time Nov. 22). Expedition 30 will officially begin when the Soyuz TMA-02M undocks. Burbank will take over station command in a ceremony scheduled to take place on Nov. 20.
TMA-22 is the 111th flight of a Soyuz spacecraft. The Soyuz will most likely remain docked to the ISS throughout the Expedition 29 increment to serve as an emergency escape vehicle. TMA-22 will be the final flight of a Soyuz-TMA vehicle, following its replacement by the modernised TMA-M series. The launch of Soyuz TMA-22 was originally scheduled for 30 September 2011, but was delayed until November 14 following the launch failure of the Progress M-12M resupply vehicle on 24 August 2011.
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes. The ISS serves as a research laboratory that has a microgravity environment in which crews conduct experiments in many fields including biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology. The station has a unique environment for the testing of the spacecraft systems that will be required for missions to the Moon and Mars. The station is expected to remain in operation until at least 2020, and potentially to 2028. Russia’s next planned space station OPSEK, is to be separated prior to the ISS’ deorbiting to form a new, separate space station, intended to support deep space exploration. Like many artificial satellites, the ISS can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. The ISS is operated by Expedition crews, and has been continuously staffed since 2 November 2000.
The ISS is a joint project between the five participating space agencies, the American NASA, the Russian RKA, the Japanese JAXA, the European ESA, and the Canadian CSA. The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements which divide the station into two areas and allow the Russian Federation to retain full ownership of Russian Orbital Segment (ROS)/(RS), with the US Orbital Segment (USOS) allocated between the other international partners. The station is serviced by Soyuz spacecraft, Progress spacecraft, the Automated Transfer Vehicle and the H-II Transfer Vehicle, and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.
The ISS provides a platform to conduct scientific research that cannot be performed in any other way. Whilst unmanned spacecraft can provide platforms for zero gravity and exposure to space, the ISS offers a long-term environment where studies can be performed potentially for decades, combined with ready access by human researchers over periods that exceed the capabilities of manned spacecraft. Kibo is intended to accelerate Japan’s progress in science and technology, gain new knowledge and apply it to such fields as industry and medicine. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which NASA compares to the Hubble telescope, could not be accommodated on a free flying satellite platform, due in part to its power requirements and data bandwidth needs. The Station simplifies individual experiments by eliminating the need for separate rocket launches and research staff.